On a day that will forever be linked with sadness, death and despair, a backup point guard turned in the most heartwarming story on the NBA schedule. It was of little importance within the grand scheme of life, especially after spending hours trained to the television yesterday afternoon, but watching Norris Cole get extended minutes in his hometown and light up the Cavs was fun. With the Big Three all sitting this one out, Cole nearly locked in a triple-double (16 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists), and after missing two free throws in the clutch, he responded by locking up Kyrie Irving, cleaning stripping him on an isolation that could’ve won it for Cleveland in the final seconds. Instead, Miami walked out with a one-point win. The Heat were survivors, making it past an 18-8 run by Cleveland, capped by a nasty bowling ball pass from Irving to Tristan Thompson (16 points, 13 rebounds) for a layup, that turned a comfortable Miami lead into a two-point game in the closing minutes. Honestly, last night really felt like someone had thrown us into a time machine and sent us back about five years. Miami had NO talent on the floor whereas the Cavs had one blue chipper and a couple of other solid prospects. It was jarring to watch. Imagine being a fan and coming to boo LeBron, who ends up not playing and you’re left to watch a 95-year-old Juwan Howard, Joel Anthony‘s stone hands and Mike Miller. … Miami this year: without D-Wade, they’re 10-3. Without LeBron, they are 3-1. Without Chris Bosh, they’re 6-0, and without all three of them, they’re 2-0. … Irving (16 points, eight dimes) has had a quiet finish to the year, almost whisper-like. Ever since that epic game where he slashed and dashed Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, the dude has either been hurt, playing D that only D’Antoni would approve of or being uncharacteristically passive. It happened again last night as he scored just seven through three quarters. Once he finally decided to pick it up, it was probably too late, scoring two fast-break buckets in the last minute to keep Cleveland alive before coughing it up on their last chance. … Speaking of the tragedy that went down in Boston yesterday, the NBA announced that Tuesday night’s game at the TD Garden between the Celtics and Pacers will be canceled and won’t be rescheduled. As Howard Beck noted on Twitter, this will be the first time a team won’t be playing 82 games since the season expanded to that number (obviously not including the lockout-shortened seasons). … The Bobcats were feeling pretty good about themselves in the first half of their 106-95 win over New York. At one point late in the second quarter, Kemba Walker (23 points, 13 assists) put Pablo Prigioni on skates with a couple of nasty crossovers and then dropped a J. The announcers were going giddy and Tyrus Thomas did a pretty weird dance on the sideline… something unlike anything you’ve seen before in the NBA. … Marshall Henderson tweeted this yesterday: “i need a smart phone so I can keep up with whats goin on the world before i get home to the laptop or TV … #forgiveme.” Charles Barkley says the SEC takes care of its players. You’re telling us no one can get this man a smart phone? … And the dominoes keep falling in the NBA Draft. Nerlens Noel announced yesterday that he plans to bail from Kentucky for the NBA where he’s still expected — despite knee surgery — to be the first player taken overall. Meanwhile, Yahoo! Sports is reporting Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. will be heading to the NBA as well, just a few weeks after the Hoyas blew up approximately 5,550 office brackets. … Reggie Bullock, the swingman from UNC, is also leaving, despite the fact that he has a good chance of ending up as a second-round pick spending long weeks in the D-League next year. … Keep reading to see the new injury update photo Kobe posted to Instagram…
Another update from Coach Vino on his rehab. It turns out Dwight Howard has actually checked on his “big bro” Kobe Bryant at least three times since he had surgery (along with that random dog), and even brought along Jodie Meeks for the ride. As a team, the Lakers now probably have to win in their final game against Houston. Utah took care of business against the Wolves last night, beating Minnesota 96-80. They jumped out almost immediately, ringing up a 14-point lead before J.J. Barea went back in time, cloned the 2011 version of himself and started dropping buckets. He got to the rack. He found teammates for layups. He hit two transition triples, and scored 11 points before the break. Ironically, he’d never score again, and 22 points from Al Jefferson would lead the Jazz to 43-38 on the year. … Derrick Williams caught a one-handed lob along the baseline that had to be one of the 10 best alley-oops we’ve seen all year. … The big one for Utah is coming up next. With Memphis winning last night against Dallas, 103-97, the Grizzlies are still very much in the hunt for homecourt advantage… meaning they’ll be going for the win when the Jazz come to the Grit N’ Grind on Wednesday night. … Andray Blatche finally got his revenge against his old team in Washington, giving them 20 points and 12 rebounds last night in Brooklyn’s 106-101 win. His biggest sequence, a dirty, put-back layup in the last minute to put Brooklyn up and then a defensive rebound on the other end, was something he never would’ve done as a Wizard. One possession later, Tyshawn Taylor made a moonshot from 25 feet that ended it. We’re still wondering how it went in. … On the other side, Air Jan was in full effect last night, somehow delivering a number of highlights despite scoring only eight points. Some of that credit needs to go to John Wall (18 points, 12 assists), who threw one nasty, no-look lob on a dead sprint that Vesely finished with a jam. … In other scores from last night: Chicago took advantage of Orlando, 102-84, as Carlos Boozer put in 22 points; Greg Monroe had 27 points and 16 rebounds as Detroit beat Philly by eight; Kevin Durant scored 29 as OKC beat the Kings, 104-95; the Suns surprised Houston, beating them by seven behind Luis Scola (26 points, 15 rebounds); Ty Lawson scored 26 points and hit a game-winner with 9.3 seconds left during Denver’s one-point win in Milwaukee; and Stephen Curry lit up San Antonio for 35 points in Golden State’s 10-point win. The loss by the Spurs guarantees the No. 1 seed and homecourt advantage in the West for the Thunder. … In the WNBA Draft, there was no surprise who Phoenix took with the No. 1 overall pick: Brittney Griner. She joins a Mercury team that was destroyed by injuries last year, and yet they already have Penny Taylor, Candice Dupree and Diana Taurasi. That reeks of San Antonio grabbing Duncan after a year of ridiculous injuries, and then starting a dynasty. Elena Delle Donne went No. 2 to Chicago, and Tulsa followed that up by grabbing Skylar Diggins. … We’re out like Henderson’s phone bill.
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